Wood County Courts Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to commonly asked questions. If you need further assistance, please contact us.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I file my own papers, and if so, how?
Yes, it is possible to represent yourself and file your own papers, however it is highly recommended that you consult an attorney to make sure that everything is done properly. There are some very complex issues when terminating a marriage. If you decide to represent yourself, there are sample forms on the Clerk of Courts website or a kiosk in the law library. There is a Legal Clinic that meets the second Tuesday of each month at the courthouse to provide general information and go over the forms. If you are unable to afford an attorney, you may also wish to contact the local Legal Clinic or Legal Aid of Western Ohio to see if you can access legal assistance.
For further information please visit Ohio Legal Help at www.ohiolegalhelp.org
Court personnel cannot provide legal advice and cannot assist you in completing the forms.
Do I have to appear in court, and if so, when will the hearing be?
To finalize a dissolution, divorce or legal separation, you must appear in court. You will receive a written notice by mail or email indicating the date, time and type of hearing. If you are unable to attend court on that date, you must file a Motion to Continue and state the reason. You should contact the other party or his/her attorney regarding the request before you file your motion. The court will review the motion and decide if it should be granted or denied.
When should the classes be completed?
You should complete the online parenting class prior to your first court appearance. You should call to schedule Changing Families as soon as possible so that your child can be enrolled in the next available class. You do not want your hearing delayed because the classes are not completed.
Who Makes the Decision?
Generally the domestic relations cases are heard by a magistrate. The Judges of the Court of Common Pleas of Wood County have appointed two magistrates pursuant to CivR 53 to hear cases relating to the termination of marriage, civil protection orders and all proceedings subsequent to that when a party seeks to enforce, modify or vacate a prior order.
Where is the court?
The Wood County Courthouse is located on the corner of Court Street and Summit Street, just one block east of Main Street and north of Wooster Street, in Bowling Green, Ohio. The Domestic Relations Court (Courtroom #3) is located on the first floor of the Wood County Courthouse. Use the main entrance on Summit Street (across from the public parking lot). Go into the Atrium entrance, go south (left) to the second doorway on the left.
After you have checked in, there are conference rooms where you can wait and consult with your attorney until your case is called.
The court is open Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m. and is closed on legal holidays. The holidays are listed on our About Us page. Motions for Civil Protection Orders filed after 3:00 p.m. will be scheduled for the following day.
What can be done if my Order/Decision seems unfair?
If the magistrate issues a Temporary Order or other Magistrate’s Order, either party may file a written Motion to Set Aside the Magistrate’s Order within 10 days of the file-stamped date on the Magistrate’s Order. The Judge will then review the order and the transcript, if prepared, and rule on the Motion to Set Aside.
If the magistrate issues a Magistrate’s Decision after a hearing on the issues, either party may file written Objections within 14 days of the Decision and the Judge will rule on the Objections.
It is necessary to file a transcript of the hearing for the Judge to consider your motion or objections. A Request for Transcript shall be filed simultaneously with the projected cost of the transcript when you file your motion or objections.
See Ohio Civil Rule 53 regarding Objections to a Magistrate’s Decision and Motions to Set Aside a Court Order.
After there has been a final judgment entry signed by the judge and filed, you can appeal the entry within 30 days of the judgment entry. Your transcript shall accompany your appeal.
How do I enforce a court order?
If someone has violated a court order, a proceeding called a contempt action may be started. A Motion to Show Cause, or for Contempt, together with an affidavit stating the specific facts relating to the contempt shall be filed with the filing fee.
Do I need an attorney to obtain a Civil Protection Order?
No, although it is suggested that you be represented by an attorney so that you can properly present your case. You may also wish to contact Legal Aid of Western Ohio at www.ablelaw.org to see if you qualify for a pro bono attorney.
Must there be a court hearing for me to obtain a Civil Protection Order:
Yes. There are 2 hearings involved in a CPO case: the ex-parte hearing and the full hearing. See www.supremecourt.ohio.gov. Go to the Specialized Dockets, Protection Order for more information.
Ex Parte Hearing
If a petition for a CPO is filed before 3:00 p.m., an ex-parte hearing will be held that same day. If it is filed after 3:00 it will be heard on the next business day. At this hearing, petitioner takes an oath to tell the truth and the magistrate determines if the facts that you describe meet the requirements of the law and an order is necessary. Sometimes the petitioner brings an attorney or victim advocate to that hearing. If an order is issued, it will be in effect until the next court hearing. The next full hearing will be within 7 business days if the Respondent is required to vacate the home, or otherwise, within 10 days.
At the full hearing, respondent has the opportunity to be present and both parties have the opportunity to testify, bring witnesses and present evidence. One or both parties can choose to bring an attorney with him/her. The full hearing cannot occur until there has been service on the Respondent. If there has been service but the Respondent does not appear for the hearing, the hearing will go forward. If the Petitioner does not appear, the court, at its discretion, may dismiss the petition. If the court determines that the evidence meets the definition of domestic violence or stalking and that an order is necessary, the Order will be prepared and filed in the clerk’s office. After that, the order will be served to both parties and continue in effect as noted on the order. The maximum time period for a CPO is 5 years.
Petitioners are encouraged to contact a domestic violence advocate at a local shelter or agency, such as The Cocoon Shelter or Behavioral Connections of Wood County or First Step. Another resource is the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, 800.934.9840 for program and shelter information.
What can I do if I change my mind about having a civil protection order?
You will need to file a written Motion Dismiss. When you file the motion, a hearing must be scheduled. At the hearing, the case may be dismissed or modified if the magistrate determines that it is appropriate. The court may require the petitioner to complete the Women’s Empowerment Program or other counseling if the court finds that it would be beneficial.
What can I do if my child is in immediate danger with the other parent?
Contact the police or Children Services at Wood County Job & Family Services (419.352.7566) for immediate assistance. You may also contact an attorney and file an emergency or ex-parte motion with an affidavit setting forth the specific facts. It is possible that a Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order would be appropriate under the circumstances.
What can I do if I cannot afford an attorney?
In a civil case, the court does not appoint an attorney, so you can represent yourself or see if you qualify for legal assistance. You should check with Legal Aid of Western Ohio at www.ablelaw.org to see if you qualify for a pro bono attorney.
There is a valuable pamphlet that will be helpful to you about self-representation. http://www.ohiojudges.org/Document.ashx?DocGuid=dddcb9f1-9006-4361-ac2c-80c553f62c36
Do I need to notify anyone if my address changes?
It is important to notify the Clerk of Courts Wood County Clerk of Courts if you move so that you can receive notice of all court proceedings.
How do I know what is filed in my case?
The opposing party or attorney should serve you a copy of any filings made in your case. Additionally you can check the court’s docket at Wood County Clerk of Courts to see what, if anything, is filed in your case.
What should I do if I cannot come to a hearing?
If you receive notice of a hearing but you are unable to attend, you must file a Motion to Continue in the case. You must state the reason that you are unable to attend and you should contact the opposing attorney/party to see if they oppose your request. Your request is to be filed 2 weeks in advance. The court will review your motion and decide if a continuance will be granted. Your case is not automatically continued at your request.
Are there special rules or forms that I should know about?
Each county has its own special rules in addition to the Ohio Revised Code. These are called the Local Rules and can be found at Wood County Clerk of Courts. You should always check these before you file your motion.
Should I bring my child to court with me?
The court discourages children from attending court hearings because the hearings address adult issues. The court does not provide any babysitting services and children are easily distracted at court. If you feel that your child should express his/her wishes and concerns, you should file a Motion for an In Camera Interview. The court will then schedule an interview with the child at a designated time. Despite attempts to shield children from court hearings, there may be times when it is necessary for your child to testify about facts in a particular case in open court.
Who do I contact for special accommodations?
If you have a specific need for an interpreter or other special accommodations, please contact Domestic Relations Court at 419.354.9290 to discuss the matter so that we can take the necessary steps.
How do I talk to the Magistrate or Judge?
You will only be allowed to discuss your case in open court when the other side has an opportunity to be present (except for an ex-parte initial hearing). This is to ensure that both sides have the same opportunity to know what the magistrate hears and the chance to refute any evidence that is presented.
For more information read this pamphlet http://www.ohiojudges.org/Document.ashx?DocGuid=2e20d29c-accd-424b-b355-65150d738ecf.
What is the difference between a Divorce and a Dissolution?
In a Dissolution, the parties must agree on everything, including the division of debts and assets, as well as all matters relating to the children. Both parties must appear at the final hearing.
In a Divorce, many times the parties do not agree on how to resolve the issues when the case is filed. As the case proceeds, either the parties will come to an agreement or the court will decide the issues after having a trial. If the Defendant has been properly served, or has waived his/her appearance, a divorce case may proceed to trial even if the Defendant does not appear. If the Defendant is not present, the Plaintiff must have a corroborating witness testify about the grounds for divorce.